1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transactions

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1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transactions

Postby MCT » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:26 pm

This is the fifth of a planned series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

CHICAGO BULLS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Bulls had a 45-37 record. They finished a distant second in the Central Division (15 games behind the first-place Bucks), and were the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. In the First Round, the Bulls defeated the Knicks 2-0. They then lost to the Celtics 4-0 in the Conference Semifinals. The Bulls played a total of 6 playoff games.

The Bulls used 13 different players for the season, two above the minimum.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

Coby Dietrick
Artis Gilmore
David Greenwood
Dwight Jones
Larry Kenon
*Ronnie Lester
Oliver Mack
Scott May
Reggie Theus
Bobby Wilkerson
James Wilkes
Sam Worthen

*placed on injured list 10/9/80

Notable unsigned Veteran Free Agents: Ricky Sobers, Ollie Johnson.

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

10/23/80 – Activated Ronnie Lester from the injured list; waived Oliver Mack.

11/3/80 – Re-signed Ricky Sobers, who had been an unsigned Veteran Free Agent; placed Ronnie Lester on the injured list.

11/21/80 – Ollie Johnson, who had been an unsigned Veteran Free Agent, signed with the 76ers; received cash from the 76ers as compensation for Johnson.

3/6/81 – Placed Scott May on the injured list; activated Ronnie Lester from the injured list.

Note: the Bulls finished the season with 12 players on their roster, including one on the injured list (Scott May). May remained inactive for the playoffs.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

I don’t have any explicit documentation of what date the 76ers sent cash to the Bulls as compensation for Johnson, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I am assuming that it happened at the same time Johnson signed with the 76ers. Johnson has to have been a fairly minor free agent and I don’t see why working out compensation for him would have needed to be a protracted process. (pst.com has it on the same date, but I’m not sure if Frank found a source explicitly stating that, or if he’s simply making the same assumption that I am.)

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

The 2012-13 Bulls Media Guide has regular season games started stats going back to the 1970-71 season. For 1980-81, it shows the following:

Theus 82
Gilmore 82
Greenwood 82
Kenon 70
Wilkerson 49
Worthen 33
Jones 9
May 2
Wilkes 1

TSN BOX SCORES

All but three of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Bulls appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The three exceptions were games on 11/14/80, 11/26/80, and 2/22/81.

--The 11/14/80 box score appears to have the Bulls players listed in alphabetical order, except that one player is out of sequence (Sobers is listed last, after Theus, Wilkerson and Worthen).

--The 11/26/80 box score appears to have the Bulls players listed in descending order of points scored, except that one player is out of sequence (Gilmore is listed third, but the points total attributed to him should have made him second).

--In the 2/22/81 box score, the first five players listed look like the regular starters, but with a couple out of order (Theus is shown in the C slot, Gilmore in a G slot).

For most of the season, the Bulls used a consistent starting lineup at four of the five positions: Artis Gilmore at center, David Greenwood & Larry Kenon at forward, and Reggie Theus at one guard spot (Dwight Jones replaced Kenon late in the season, but that wasn’t until well after all three of the above games). The second guard spot switched back and forth between Sam Worthen and Bobby Wilkerson on more than one occasion, but at any point in time there was typically a clear starter for the moment. If we assume that any usual starter who played in the games on the above dates started those games, the games started totals for all players are consistent with those in the Bulls Media Guide, except for the discrepancies noted below.

The only gap in the above is that the game on 11/14/80 falls at a transition point between a period when Wilkerson started and a period when Worthen started. After making the assumptions discussed in the previous paragraph with regard to the 11/26 and 2/22 games, Worthen’s games started total from the TSN boxes equals his total in the Bulls Media Guide, but Wilkerson is one game short. If we assume that Wilkerson started the game on 11/14, the games started totals for both players are in agreement with those in the Bulls Media Guide.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

After making the above assumptions, there are two discrepancies between the Bulls Media Guide and the TSN boxes, involving two games and four players.

First, the Media Guide indicates that Reggie Theus started 82 games, and Ricky Sobers none. The TSN boxes suggest that Theus started 81 games, and Sobers 1. The source of the discrepancy is a game on 3/15/81. One would have expected Theus to start this game, but the TSN box score lists Sobers in the fifth position (starting guard), with Theus in the sixth position (first player off the bench).

Second, the Media Guide indicates that Scott May started 2 games, and James Wilkes 1. The TSN boxes suggest that May started 3 games, and Wilkes none. The three games May is shown as starting are three games in December in which regular starter Larry Kenon did not play (12/10/80 and two consecutive games on 12/16/80 & 12/17/80). The Media Guide seems to be suggesting that Wilkes actually started one of these three games, although it’s not obvious to me which one of the three is the source of the discrepancy.

In this series of articles, I am assuming that the games started numbers in team media guides are correct, and I have used the numbers from the Bulls Media Guide in Part II below. For the Theus/Sobers discrepancy, I think the Media Guide is likely correct anyway. There’s no obvious reason why Sobers would have started that game in place of Theus. Given the location of each player’s name in the box score, it’s very possible that the two are simply listed out of order. For the May/Wilkes discrepancy, it’s hard to say whether one scenario intuitively makes more sense than the other. Wilkes wasn’t playing much around that point in the season, so it seems a little odd that he would have been used as a starter in one of those games, but by no means inconceivable.

PLAYOFFS

As far as I can see, the Bulls Media Guide does not have games started stats for the playoffs.

The TSN box scores show the same five players who started towards the end of the regular season starting every game in the playoffs. I don’t have anything to double-check this against, but it is essentially what one would expect to see, so I am assuming it is accurate. Heading into the playoffs, the starter with the shakiest hold on his position was probably Dwight Jones, who took over for Larry Kenon with nine games left in the regular season. The TSN boxes show Jones continuing to start and Kenon continuing to come off the bench. Jones played far more minutes in the playoffs than Kenon, which is consistent with this.
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby MCT » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:31 pm

CHICAGO BULLS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February, although the Bulls’ roster and regular starting lineup was the same from early November to early March, and this analysis would be more-or-less the same at any point in that timeframe. March would see a player on the injured list swap places with a player on the active roster, and a change in one of the starters. The list below reflects the roster before those developments.

REGGIE THEUS

History: 1st round pick of Bulls in 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 34.4 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 38.7 MPG): Theus appeared in every game the Bulls played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 82; Playoffs: 6): As discussed earlier, there is a one-game discrepancy in Theus’ regular season games started. The Bulls Media Guide credits him with starting all 82 games, but the TSN box scores suggest that there was one game he did not start, leaving him with 81 starts. The discrepancy involves a game on 3/15/81. It seems pretty clear that Theus started every other game he played in.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for most seasons of career, including 1980-81, but is PG for four seasons (1978-79, 1982-83, 1983-84 and 1986-87). While probably most accurately labeled as a combo guard, I think Theus was a bit more PG-slanted than b-r.com does, and I think he played more of a PG role than an SG role during the 1980-81 season. Theus led the team in assists by a wide margin.

ARTIS GILMORE

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1971. Acquired in ABA dispersal draft, August 1976.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 34.5 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 41.2 MPG): Gilmore appeared in every game the Bulls played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 82; Playoffs: 6): Gilmore started every game the Bulls played.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

DAVID GREENWOOD

History: 1st round pick of Bulls in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 33.0 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 35.3 MPG): Greenwood appeared in every game the Bulls played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 82; Playoffs: 6): Greenwood started every game the Bulls played.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

LARRY KENON

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1973. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, September 1980 (compensation owed to Spurs).

Games Played (Regular Season 77 G, 28.1 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 19.0 MPG): The five games in which Kenon did not appear were on 12/10/80, two consecutive games on 12/16/80 & 12/17/80, and two consecutive games on 3/13/81 & 3/15/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 70; Playoffs: 0): Kenon started every game through 3/10/81 except for the three games in December in which he did not play (70 of the Bulls’ first 73 games). He was then replaced in the starting lineup by Dwight Jones. Kenon did not play in the first two games that Jones started, but even after Kenon subsequently returned, he came off the bench. Kenon remained on the bench for the playoffs.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as PF for most seasons of career, but SF for two seasons, including 1980-81 (the other is 1977-78).

BOBBY WILKERSON

History: 1st round pick of Sonics in 1976. Acquired in trade with Nuggets, October 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 28.0 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 25.3 MPG): The two games in which Wilkerson did not appear were two consecutive games on 3/19/81 & 3/20/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 49; Playoffs: 6): Wilkerson started 16 consecutive games from 10/15/80 (second game of the season) to 11/14/80, then every game from 1/17/81 on except for the two games in March in which he did not play (33 of the last 35 regular season games, and all 6 playoff games). All of Wilkerson’s starts were at guard.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position for 1980-81 is shown as SG, but is SF for all other seasons of career (note that this is the case even though his position in the header is listed as “Guard-Forward”, not “Forward-Guard”). I can’t speak for the rest of Wilkerson’s career, but I agree with b-r.com’s assessment that his primary position in 1980-81 was SG.

RICKY SOBERS

History: 1st round pick of Suns in 1975. Acquired from Pacers in free agent compensation transaction, August 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 71 G, 25.4 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 27.0 MPG): Sobers began the season as an unsigned free agent. When he finally re-signed with the Bulls on 11/3/80, the team had already played 11 games. Sobers made his season debut in the next game, on 11/5/80, and played in every remaining game.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): As discussed earlier, there is a one-game discrepancy in Sobers’ regular season games started. The Bulls Media Guide does not credit him with any starts, but the TSN box scores suggest that he started 1 game, on 3/15/81. It seems pretty clear that Sobers came off the bench in every other game he played.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. For the first six seasons of Sobers’ career (through 1980-81), his primary position switches back and forth between SG and PG; for 1980-81 it is shown as PG. For his last five seasons (starting in 1981-82), it is SG every year.

DWIGHT JONES

History: 1st round pick of Hawks in 1973. Signed as a free agent, December 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 19.4 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 36.2 MPG): The only game in which Jones did not appear was on 12/13/80.

Games Started (Regular Season: 9; Playoffs: 6): Jones moved into the starting lineup with nine games left in the regular season, on 3/13/81. He started every remaining regular season game, and all six playoff games. Note the contrast between Jones’ regular season and playoff mpg.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position switches back and forth between C and PF during first six seasons of career (through 1978-79), then is PF for last four seasons, including 1980-81.

SCOTT MAY

History: 1st round pick of Bulls in 1976.

Games Played (Regular Season 63 G, 12.9 MPG): May appeared in 63 of the Bulls’ first 69 games (through 2/28/81). The six games in that period in which he did not appear were on 10/15/80, 10/29/80, 11/9/80, two consecutive games on 1/23/81 & 1/24/81, and 2/4/81. After 2/28/81, May did not appear in any further games. He was placed on the injured list on 3/6/81, staying there for the rest of the season, and remained inactive for the playoffs.

Using the severely limited search functionality that is currently available for the Google News Archive, I was able to find a UPI wire service story in the 3/4/81 edition of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle indicating that May had injured his hand in a household accident the previous day, and was out indefinitely. The Bulls’ game on the date of the accident (3/3/81) was their next game after the one in which May had made his last appearance of the season (2/28/81).

Games Started (Regular Season: 3): As discussed earlier, there is a one-game discrepancy in May’s regular season games started. The Bulls Media Guide credits him with 2 starts, but the TSN box scores suggest that he started 3 games. The TSN boxes indicate that May started all three of the games in December in which Kenon did not play (12/10/80, and two consecutive games on 12/16/80 & 12/17/80), while the Bulls Media Guide implies that Wilkes actually started one of these three games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

COBY DIETRICK

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1970. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, August 1979 (compensation owed to Spurs).

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 15.2 MPG; Playoffs 6 G, 13.5 MPG): Dietrick appeared in every game the Bulls played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): Dietrick did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for most seasons of career, including 1980-81. Two seasons are shown as PF (1973-74 and 1977-78).

SAM WORTHEN

History: 2nd round pick of Bulls in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 64 G, 14.8 MPG; Playoffs 1 G, 1.0 MPG): Worthen’s games played reveal some very interesting patterns. For about the first two-thirds of the season, Worthen was an everyday player, and even started for a time. At the All-Star break, he had appeared in 53 out of 54 games (the one game he hadn’t played in was on 1/17/81). He then played in just 6 of the next 22 games (2/6/81, 2/8/81, 2/14/81, 2/17/81, 3/3/81, 3/13/81). I don’t know if there were injury issues, or if he just fell out of the rotation. As the season wound down, he followed this by playing in five consecutive games from 3/19/81 to 3/27/81. Wilkerson did not play in the first two games in this stretch; the last game was the second-to-last game of the regular season. Worthen did not play in the final game of the regular season, then played just one minute in the playoffs, which was in Game 2 of the Boston series.

Games Started (Regular Season: 33; Playoffs: 0): Worthen started on opening night (10/11/80), 30 consecutive games from 11/16/80 to 1/16/81 (he did not play at all in the game that snapped this streak, on 1/17/81; as noted above, it was the first game of the season he hadn’t played in), and two consecutive games on 3/19/81 & 3/20/81 (the two games Wilkerson did not play in).

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

JAMES WILKES

History: 3rd round pick of Bulls in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 48 G, 11.3 MPG; Playoffs 2 G, 2.5 MPG): Wilkes is credited with appearing in 48 regular season games, but I only noted him in 47 TSN box scores. b-r.com’s game log feature also shows Wilkes in only 47 box scores. It is possible that Wilkes was omitted from one box score in which he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. Based on those box scores that Wilkes does appear in, he played more frequently in the early and later parts of the season than in the middle. He appears in the TSN boxes for 14 of the first 16 games, then just 23 of the next 53, then 10 of the last 13. Wilkes’ more frequent usage towards the end of the regular season may have been due to May’s injury, but this didn’t carry over to the playoffs. In the playoffs, Wilkes appeared only in Games 1 & 2 of the Boston series, logging a grand total of five minutes.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): As discussed earlier, there is a one-game discrepancy in Wilkes’ regular season games started. The Bulls Media Guide credits him with 1 start, but the TSN box scores suggest that he did not start any games. The Bulls Media Guide seems to imply that Wilkes started one of the three games in December in which Kenon did not play (12/10/80, and two consecutive games on 12/16/80 & 12/17/80), while the TSN box scores indicate that May started all three.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career.

INJURED LIST:

RONNIE LESTER

History: 1st round pick of Blazers in 1980; rights traded to Bulls on draft day.

Games Played (Regular Season 8 G, 10.4 MPG; Playoffs 5 G, 8.4 MPG): Lester was on the injured list for most of the season. He was only on the active roster from 10/23/80 to 11/3/80, and again from 3/6/81 to the end of the season. The eight games Lester played in were four consecutive games from 10/24/80 to 10/29/80 (the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth games of the regular season), and four consecutive games from 3/22/81 to 3/29/81 (the last four games of the regular season). Lester remained on the active roster for the playoffs, and appeared in every playoff game except Game 1 of the New York series.

Note that although Lester was activated from the injured list on 3/6/81, he did not appear in any games until more than two weeks later, on 3/22/81. Lester was activated when May went on the IL. I would guess the Bulls had concluded that May was lost for the season, so there was no particular reason to keep him on the active roster, but believed that Lester would be ready to play at some point. In that scenario, they apparently decided to swap the two out and put Lester on the active roster, even if he wasn’t quite ready to come back yet. Another possibility is that Lester was originally expected to come back sooner but encountered a setback. Whatever the explanation, the Bulls were effectively playing shorthanded, with only 10 men, for nearly three weeks.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): Lester did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

OLIVER MACK

History: 2nd round pick of Lakers in 1979. Acquired in trade with Lakers, February 1980.

Mack started the season on the Bulls’ active roster, but was waived on 10/23/80, following the fifth game of the season. He was waived when Ronnie Lester, who had started the season on the injured list, was activated. About four weeks after the Bulls released him, Mack was signed by the Mavericks. He would play the rest of the season with them, appearing in 62 games. Including the 3 games he had played for the Bulls earlier in the season, Mack appeared in 65 NBA regular season games this year.

Games Played (Regular Season 3 G, 5.3 MPG): Mack was on the Bulls’ roster for the first five games of the season, playing in three. The games Mack appeared in were on 10/11/80, 10/15/80, and 10/18/80. These were the Bulls’ first, second and fourth games of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Mack did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby MCT » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:34 pm

CHICAGO BULLS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

The Bulls had a stable starting lineup throughout the season at three positions: Gilmore at center, Greenwood at one forward slot, and Theus at one guard slot. The other forward slot was occupied by Kenon for most of the regular season, but Jones took over with nine games left and stayed there for the playoffs. The February snapshot list above has Kenon as the starter, because the change hadn’t been made yet at that point; Kenon was also clearly the primary starter for the season as a whole. The other guard slot traded back and forth a bit in the early part of the season between Worthen and Wilkerson. Wilkerson finally took over for good just before the All-Star break. Wilkerson was the starter for our February snapshot, and across the season as a whole, he started the most games and played the most minutes of the two.

b-r.com lists Greenwood as the PF and Kenon as the SF. I agree with that assessment, but would note that Kenon is shown as a PF for most other seasons of his career. Between the two of them, he was the more SF-like, at least at this point in his career, but in general he seems like more of a PF than an SF. The Bulls signed Kenon as a free agent in the preseason, and I’d be curious as to how they saw Kenon and Greenwood fitting together. As we’ll address further when we look at reserves, the Bulls for whatever reason had a heavily PF-slanted forward corps this season. Jones, who took over for Kenon late in the season, was also a PF.

In the backcourt, b-r.com lists both Theus and Wilkerson as SGs. Theus was really a combo guard; I think what happened is that he played more of an SG role while alongside Worthen (who b-r.com lists as a PG), but then took on more of a PG role when playing alongside Wilkerson. Even when Worthen was starting, I have a hard time seeing the Bulls fully entrusting playmaking duties to a rookie second-round pick. Across the season as a whole, Theus led the team in assists by a wide margin. Based on all that, I’d label Theus as the PG. For some reason, b-r.com seems to regard Theus as more of an SG than a PG, and I’m not sure that was true to the extent they think it was. There is one season later in Theus’ career, when he was with the Kings, where he had nearly 800 assists but is listed as an SG.

The three players who were in the starting lineup all year all averaged at least 33 mpg; no one else was over 28.1.

RESERVES

The reserve who played the most minutes, by far, was guard Ricky Sobers (25.4 mpg). I’d call Sobers the Bulls’ sixth man. b-r.com lists Sobers’ primary position as PG, but he looks to have been a combo guard who could play either backcourt position. He played so many more minutes than any other reserve guard that I’m sure he played a bit of both roles, with who played PG and who played SG depending on the specific personnel in the game at the moment. Alongside Theus or Worthen, Sobers may have played SG, alongside Wilkerson, he may have played PG. In the playoffs, Sobers played even heavier minutes, actually playing more than Wilkerson did, even though Wilkerson continued to start.

The next group of reserves includes Dwight Jones (19.4 mpg), Coby Dietrick (15.2 mpg), and Scott May (12.9 mpg). All were everyday players, or at least May was until he injured his hand early in March. Dietrick was the backup center, and probably played a few minutes at power forward as well. Jones was the backup at PF, May at SF. Note that the three forwards who played the most minutes – Greenwood, Kenon and Jones – all seem to have been natural PFs. Those three played more than 80% of the available minutes at forward. There must have been times when the Bulls had two PFs on the floor, even if we classify Kenon as an SF. As discussed earlier, Jones became the starter late in the regular season, and played much heavier minutes in the playoffs, alongside Greenwood.

Next we come to Sam Worthen, who is really in his own unique category. For about the first two-thirds of the season, he was a regular rotation player, even a starter at times, at PG. Then he went through a phase where he was arguably the last player on the bench for about a quarter of the season. For the season as a whole, he averaged 14.8 ppg, but he only saw one minute of court time during the entire playoffs.

For most of the season, the last player on the bench was James Wilkes. Wilkes only played in 48 games, though he did average a healthy 11.3 mpg when he did play, apparently picking up whatever minutes were left at SF behind May. Even with May injured, Wilkes played just five minutes in the playoffs.

POSITION NOTES

Forwards

Dietrick’s header lists him as a Center-Forward, with his primary position shown as C. If you add up the minutes played by Gilmore and Dietrick, they come up to 119 minutes more than was available at C. Based on this, Dietrick likely played a little bit at power forward, though not a whole lot (119 minutes is less than two minutes a game).

For whatever reason, the Bulls appear to have had a forward corps that was unusually heavily slanted towards PFs, with not much in the way of SFs. If you add up the minutes for every player whose primary position was forward (Greenwood, Kenon, Jones, May, Wilkes), plus the 119 minutes Dietrick is presumed to have played there, they substantially equal the number of minutes that was available at forward – actually seven fewer. Taking into account that Kenon was really more of a natural PF than an SF, the only two forwards who were natural SFs were the two who played the fewest minutes (May and Wilkes) – and one of them went down with an injury late in the season. The players whose natural position was PF played 82.8% of the available minutes. Classifying Kenon as a SF obviously balances things out a bit – the percentage of minutes played by PFs drops to 55.6% -- but there’s still an undeniable PF orientation. Towards the end of the season, Wilkes was the only natural SF on the active roster, and the Bulls were starting two players at forward who were sufficiently big and PF-oriented enough that their header positions are both shown as “Forward-Center”.

The Bulls did have a player starting at SG, Wilkerson, who appears to have played SF for most of the rest of his career (see below). Could he have played some minutes at SF, thus alleviating the PF overload described above? It’s possible Wilkerson played some minutes at forward, but this would have done nothing to reverse the PF slant, because there wouldn’t have been any minutes available for him at forward unless one of the players whose primary position was forward got some playing time at guard. If one of the forwards got some playing time at guard, it was likely one of the two natural SFs (May or Wilkes), which would simply remove their minutes from the forward equation and replace them with Wilkerson’s.

Wilkerson at SG

b-r.com shows Wilkerson’s primary position as SF for every season but this one, which is shown as SG. I can’t speak for how Wilkerson was used in other seasons of his career, but it appears to me that b-r.com’s assessment for this season is correct. Wilkerson started 49 games at guard, and if you include his minutes in the backcourt, there is no overage at guard or shortage at forward; the numbers add up almost perfectly (the forwards are seven minutes over, the guards seven minutes under). There is also no frontcourt player listed as a “Forward-Guard” who seems like a good candidate to have swapped significant minutes with Wilkerson. It’s certainly possible that Wilkerson played a few minutes at SF, but it seems pretty clear that SG was his primary, maybe even exclusive, position.

Greenwood and Jones at C

As noted above, b-r.com shows Greenwood and Jones’ primary position this season as PF, but their headers list their position as “Center-Forward” (there are some seasons for which Jones’ primary position is shown as C, but all are earlier in his career; there are no positions for which Greenwood’s primary positions is shown as anything other than PF). With Gilmore and Dietrick collectively playing more minutes than were available at C, I don’t see why the Bulls would have had any pressing need to use Greenwood or Jones at C. Depending on how Dietrick was used in relation to them, though, it’s certainly possible they could have played some C.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Coby Dietrick, born 7/23/48 (age 32 throughout the season).

Played in ABA: Artis Gilmore, Larry Kenon, Coby Dietrick.

Longest continuous service with team: Artis Gilmore and Scott May were both acquired during the 1976 offseason, and had played for the team since the 1976-77 season. Depending on how you want to look at it, each could claim to have been with the team slightly longer than the other. The college draft in which the Bulls selected May occurred earlier than the ABA dispersal draft in which the Bulls selected Gilmore, but May did not actually sign with the Bulls until after the dispersal draft.

Highest original draft position*: #2 overall – Scott May and David Greenwood.

Lowest original draft position*: 10th round, #155 overall - Coby Dietrick.

Youngest Player: Ronnie Lester, born 1/1/59 (age 21 at start of season, turned 22 on New Year’s Day).

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away; player was already under contract to ABA, or thought to be likely to sign with ABA).
Last edited by MCT on Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby wojoaderge » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:12 pm

Wilkerson could definitely play point guard as well. I would guess that Greenwood probably played SF more than Jones
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby meej » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:47 pm

I seem to remember Greenwood playing a few minutes at SF vs the Lakers in the previous season, when he was a rookie.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby MCT » Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:32 pm

There's obviously no rule that a team has to put one player on the floor who squarely meets the definition of "power forward" and one who squarely meets the definition of "small forward" (or even, strictly speaking, two players who are "forwards" at all). Some players don't fit squarely into either definition at all, and many who do are capable of playing the opposite role for at least short stretches. So putting these labels on players and trying to figure out who played together is definitely an inexact science. With that understood, I still think it's interesting that the Bulls seem to have been overloaded with forwards whose skill sets were more "power forward" than "small forward", especially given that 1) one of their starting forwards was a young player in his second pro season, coming off a strong rookie year and 2) they specifically went out and signed the other starter as a free agent in the preseason. So it was very deliberate that they ended up with those two guys in the lineup. Even more interesting, the player signed as a free agent looks like he was a disappointment, benched by the end of the season (in favor of a player who had been waived during the preceding season, and at least on paper, doesn't seem like any better of a fit than the player he replaced in the starting lineup had been). How did the Bulls envision Greenwood and Kenon fitting together? Glancing at the Bulls' 1979-80 stats on b-r.com, it looks like small forward may have been a problem area that season; did they see Kenon as perhaps not a great fit, but the best available solution?

In the backcourt, by contrast, the Bulls seem to have had a collection of mostly combo guard types who didn't fit squarely into the "point guard" or "shooting/off guard" labels. Perhaps Lester was expected to be the PG, but his injuries derailed that plan. Given the timing of Wilkerson's acquisition -- a couple of days before the start of the season -- I have to wonder if he was acquired because it had become apparent that Lester wouldn't be ready to go. Wilkerson wasn't really a PG, but this may have been another "best available" scenario, with the Bulls figuring they had other players who could fill the PG role, and Wilkerson could cover for them in the SG role.

In this era, when a player was traded for cash right before the start of the season, it was usually a sign that the player's old team had one too many players fighting for one too few spots, but believed that all of the players were "above replacement value", and the team ought to be able to get something in return for one of them rather than just placing someone on waivers. I can't speak to whether that was the Nuggets' thinking in dealing him, but based on the facts on the surface, the trade that brought Wilkerson to Chicago fits the pattern.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:40 pm

Kenon is listed as 6-9 and 205 lb, which is very slight to be a PF.
In 1980-81, the average NBA player was 6-7 and 205.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:48 pm

Kenon played 7 years for the Spurs, ABA and NBA, and his Defensive Rebound % was consistently over 18. His 7-year avg was 19.4, and it was 19.4 in the 1979-80 season. That's almost twice the normal player rate and consistent with a PF.

In 1981, which on balance was his last decent season (at age 28), his DReb% dropped to 11.1 -- pretty normal for a SF.

As MCT notes, he was not a primary contributor during the 1981 playoffs -- reduced to 19 min./game and shooting 39% FG
By age 30, he was out of the league.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby MCT » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:00 am

Maybe the Bulls' thinking was this: Even though Kenon's always been thought of as a PF, he's a bit undersized for the position, and as NBA players get bigger with each passing year, while Kenon gets older (and presumably loses some of his athleticism), he's probably better suited for SF at this stage of his career.

This doesn't seem to have worked out very well. Maybe the Bulls were right to think that Kenon's days as a full-time PF were numbered, but he just didn't have the skills to make the transition to SF. With Gilmore and Greenwood manning the other two starting frontcourt positions, the Bulls didn't have much need for a rebounding SF. But the player who ultimately replaced Kenon, the 6-10 Dwight Jones, was even more of a "big man" type than Kenon was (though probably not as prolific a rebounder, historically). I have to wonder how big of a contract the Bulls signed Kenon to, and how much cash they sent to San Antonio as compensation. Was there an expectation that Kenon was due to drop off, or did the Bulls pay for the 1973-80 Kenon?

Looking at the Bulls' 1981-82 stats on b-r.com (but not having gone through the box scores as I have for 1980-81), it looks like they tried Kenon as the starter again for at least part of the season, as he started 30 games. But he had an even worse year than in 1980-81. The Bulls would waive Kenon early in the 1982-83 season, and while two other teams would give him a try that season, it would be his last in the NBA.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby Mike Goodman » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:25 pm

In Kenon's last regular-season game for the Spurs, he scored 51 points (20-pt win over the Pistons). They finished 41-41.
In the ensuing playoffs, they were ousted by another .500 team, the Rockets, in 3 games (2-1).
In this mini-series, Kenon played just 27 mpg (down from 36 in the RS). He hit just 29% of his shots (10-34 FG).
His Reb% was down from the RS (14.8, best on the team) to just 8.7

It ranks as one of the worst postseasons ever.
http://bkref.com/tiny/VZxVp

Also notice that his FT% dipped in 1979-80. After 3 years around 84%, he slipped to 78%.
Did the Spurs see that he had major problems? Did they "let him go", or did they have no choice?
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby meej » Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:55 pm

I just watched a 1982 Bulls@Lakers game, and I think that Larry Kenon was SF while David Greenwood was PF even though their play was not that dissimilar:

1.- Kenon defended Jamaal Wilkes and, at times, Magic Johnson.
2.- Greenwood defended Kurt Rambis and Mark Landsberger.
3.- The frontcourt rotation was quite fixed, and it was Orlando Woolridge for Kenon, Dwight Jones (clearly an inside player) for Greenwood and Coby Dietrick for Artis Gilmore.
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Re: 1980-81 Chicago Bulls Games Played/Started & Transaction

Postby MCT » Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:37 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Bulls:
Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm     player         pos   Min     PO   Min
Chi   Artis Gilmore    C   2832      C   247
Chi   Reggie Theus     G   2820      G   232
Chi   David Greenwood  F   2710      F   212
Chi   Bobby Wilkerson  g   2238      g   152
Chi   Larry Kenon      F   2161      f   114
Chi   Ricky Sobers     G   1803      G   162
Chi   Dwight Jones     f   1574      F   217
Chi   Coby Dietrick   cf   1243     cf    81
Chi   Sam Worthen      g    945         
Chi   Scott May        f    815         
Chi   James Wilkes     f    540         
Chi   Ronnie Lester    g     83      g    42       


MCT wrote:Dietrick’s header lists him as a Center-Forward, with his primary position shown as C. If you add up the minutes played by Gilmore and Dietrick, they come up to 119 minutes more than was available at C. Based on this, Dietrick likely played a little bit at power forward, though not a whole lot (119 minutes is less than two minutes a game).

Neft & Cohen agree that Dietrick saw some playing time at forward; they have him as “cf”.

MCT wrote:b-r.com shows Wilkerson’s primary position as SF for every season but this one, which is shown as SG. I can’t speak for how Wilkerson was used in other seasons of his career, but it appears to me that b-r.com’s assessment for this season is correct. Wilkerson started 49 games at guard, and if you include his minutes in the backcourt, there is no overage at guard or shortage at forward; the numbers add up almost perfectly (the forwards are seven minutes over, the guards seven minutes under). There is also no frontcourt player listed as a “Forward-Guard” who seems like a good candidate to have swapped significant minutes with Wilkerson. It’s certainly possible that Wilkerson played a few minutes at SF, but it seems pretty clear that SG was his primary, maybe even exclusive, position.

Neft & Cohen have Wilkerson as exclusively a guard.

MCT wrote:As noted above, b-r.com shows Greenwood and Jones’ primary position this season as PF, but their headers list their position as “Center-Forward” (there are some seasons for which Jones’ primary position is shown as C, but all are earlier in his career; there are no positions for which Greenwood’s primary positions is shown as anything other than PF). With Gilmore and Dietrick collectively playing more minutes than were available at C, I don’t see why the Bulls would have had any pressing need to use Greenwood or Jones at C. Depending on how Dietrick was used in relation to them, though, it’s certainly possible they could have played some C.

Neft & Cohen have both Greenwood and Jones as exclusively forwards.
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